we have a steam vaporizor, I rinse it out daily and soak it in vinegar weekly, I'm okay using bleach in limited amounts and use a half tsp of bleach in in about twice a month, let it soak, then rinse it out. we use this one at night, everynight.
we recently bought a cool mist humidifier, it is one that doesn't have a filter and it came with one of those balls that are susposed to keep the water from getting moldy, I change out the water daily, and do the vinegar soak once a week on it, bleach about twice a month, I use it during the day when I'm at home on high mostly and at night on low, I fill it sometime during the day. The package says that the little bal thingy should be changed every 30 days, I've had that one since around Thanksgiving but haven't bought a new cartrige, haven't decided yet if I will or not....
the steam (warm) vaporizor has a spot that you can add the stuff they sell, the steam blows over it and puts it in th air, it has a lavender and eucalyptus in it but I dislike the smell so I started putting a drop or two of eucalyptus eo directly in the water, so far I haven't messed it up, have been doing that since right before christmas off and on.
the cool mist one has a spot for the little pads to heat and release smell, I haven't ever done that.
we heat with a wood stove and I always keep a big pan of water on it that I use for washing dishes and baths so it gets refilled at least a couple times a day, then I have a small pan there that I use for orage peels, apple peels and eo's when I feel like it, that one sometimes the water will sit and be added to for a couple days, I'm sure to dump everything out and clean it once a week, just by washing it with normal dishes.
Our son has skin issues and it really helps!
why do I use both a cool and warm one? because one isn't big enough to keep the whole house moist enough so when I bought the 2nd one I went cool because I thought it wouldn't hurt
and the warm once heats the water so the water is hot in the basin and with the cool one, if it would get knocked over I'd have a mess but not a scalded child.
I was told by one dr, ER, not to use the humidifiers or vaporizors, that they grew and spead mold/bacteria (forget the exact whatever) but our primary says that's it's okay as long as we keep them clean. I know that for his skin we have to do something or else he will turn into a bloody mess so I'm okay with the maintence. They do help with the congestion.
for croupy cough, if you have a shower and hot water, turn it on, shut the door and let it get steamy in there whil you guys hang out in there.